Welcome to the first edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly! After every Dallas Cowboys game each week we will identify something from the matchup for each category, starting with Thursday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Some may view the Dallas Cowboys 31-29 loss to the defending Super Bowl champions as a moral victory, but as far as win/loss records are concerned there is no such thing. The Cowboys unfortunately start their 2021 season with a loss, but surprisingly played encouragingly well in the season opener. Everything wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows though.
Despite the pursuit of perfection, there is sadly no such thing as a perfect game. There is some good, as well as some bad. There is also a lot of gray area. It’s these three things that I had in mind when I first started doing the good, the bad, and the ugly. It was important to take a closer look at all three categories, because each one can weigh heavily on the outcome of every game.
With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at where things stand from Thursday night.
For a team who had several starters on both sides of the ball not play much, if any, in preseason, the Dallas Cowboys surprisingly played above expectations against the Buccaneers. Because of that, there was quite a bit of positive things that can be taken away from this Week 1 matchup. The good however has to be the play of quarterback Dak Prescott.
The stat line shows Prescott completed 32 and 58 passes for 403 yards and three touchdowns. As impressive as that was though, it wasn’t nearly as impressive as seeing him pick up where he left off last year and showed no ill effects from his offseason ankle surgery. He was sharp, mobile, and carried the offense on his shoulders the entire game. This is great news for the Cowboys moving forward.
Honorable mention - Highlighting the play of Connor McGovern deserves some attention. As a fill-in for Zack Martin at right guard Thursday night McGovern played well beyond the expectations of many. He held his own against one of the better defensive fronts the Cowboys will see this season, playing more like a starter than a backup.
With the good generally comes the bad as well. While the Dallas Cowboys played the defending Super Bowl champions tough to the bitter end, there were certain aspects of the game that ended up dooming them when the final seconds ticked off the clock. Sadly, it was the missed opportunities by Greg Zuerlein in the kicking game that kept the Cowboys from being the victors in the season opener.
Hopefully it’s just rust due to the lack of offseason work, but Zuerlein’s failed extra point attempt and 31-yard field goal miss in the first half would have provided four more points in what ended up being a two-point game. There are other things that could’ve been done to secure the victory, but leaving those four points on the field definitely didn’t help matters. They may, or may not, have been the difference between a win or loss.
If you didn’t know it before, you do now. Anthony Brown is the weak link of the Dallas Cowboys secondary. Tom Brady targeted him early and often Thursday night in the season opener, exposing him for what he is, a below average starting outside cornerback. Now the entire league knows about No. 30 and opposing QBs and offensive coordinators alike will be targeting him from here on out.
Anthony Brown could prove problematic for the Dallas Cowboys as the season progresses. He’s really at his best playing in the slot and the Cowboys would be wise to try to move him back there if possible. That means finding an upgrade to replace him on the outside either in free agency or via a trade, which is easier said than done. Until that happens though AB will likely continue to be the weak link on the defensive side of the ball.